By Mike Keeney, Contributing Writer
Aldine ISD had two outstanding defensive players prowling the field during the 2017 football season.
MacArthur High School senior linebacker Jacoby Simpson and Davis High School senior defensive tackle Dominic Livingston dominated at their respective positions during the season and because of their outstanding senior seasons, the two were named the Northeast News’s Co-Defensive Players of the Year.
In eight games, Simpson recorded 116 solo tackles (an average of 14.5 per game), recorded four sacks, had 28 tackles for loss and intercepted two passes. The 6′-0″, 215-pounder has committed to Arizona State.
Livingston, 6′-3″, 360-pounds, recorded 41 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, batted down 4 passes, forced 3 fumbles, recovered 2 fumbles, blocked one kick and blocked one punt. Livingston received 28 Division I offers. He originally committed to Texas A&M, but de-committed after head coach Kevin Sumlin was fired and replaced by former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. He has since committed to LSU.
Simpson received offers from Kansas State, Louisville, Kansas, the University of Houston, Colorado State, Arkansas and Memphis but chose Arizona State after making his official visit in the fall.
“I liked the way they had things organized for me,” he said. “I felt good about the place after making my visit.”
Simpson’s head coach during his senior season was Andy Garza. Garza said Simpson was a four-year starter for the Generals and let his play on the field set the tone for his teammates.
“Jacoby grew into a leader,” Garza said. “Regardless of all the offers he received, he had his best season in the four years he was here. He could have breezed through the season after committing to Arizona State, but it seemed to motivate him to play even better. He turned into more of a vocal leader this year. He didn’t have to say a lot, but when he spoke, his teammates listened to him.”
Garza said Simpson’s strength and speed are his two best assets and should serve him well at ASU.
“He’s very explosive,” Garza said. “When he hits you, you know you’ve been hit.”
Garza said his four years of varsity experience allowed Simpson to serve as a coach on the field during games.
“We gave him more accountability because of his experience,” Garza said. “He made a lot of calls for us during games.”
While he was a hit on the field with his teammates, Simpson is also a hit with his classmates and teachers at MacArthur.
“His teammates and teachers like him,” Garza said. “He takes care of his business. He’s a blue collar kind of guy.”
Garza believes Simpson can contribute for ASU and their new head coach Herm Edwards as a freshman if given the opportunity to do so.
“I think he can contribute because of his football knowledge and the drive he has,” Garza said. “I’m excited for him. Jacoby has a good worth ethic. He’s physically strong and bench-presses 300 pounds. I’m going to miss him.”
Livingston was a wanted man during his senior season, wanted by 28 Division I football programs because of his size and strength. Davis head football coach James Showers said Livingston wanted to play in the SEC and believes his star defensive tackle has the ability to play in the best football conference in the country.
“Dominic has tremendous strength and athletic ability,” Shower said. “He’s a very humble young man. I compare him to the character (Michael Clark Duncan) in the Green Mile. He has a sweet personality, but if you make him mad, he could tear down the building.”
Livingston was a three-year letterman and a two-year starter for the Falcons, who earned a playoff berth in 2017.
Showers said he believes Livingston can play in the SEC, and he will benefit from going to a top-flight program like LSU, which has a penchant for producing NFL-caliber defensive linemen. He has the strength to play in the SEC as evidenced by his bench press of 405 pounds and squat of 635 pounds.
“Once he gets to college and gets on their training table, they will slim him down and he will be able to go full speed. He needs to take between 30 and 40 pounds off, and once he takes the weight off, he will be unstoppable.
Showers said the likable Livingston is a run stopper and should be a two-down player early in his collegiate career and should evolve into a three-down player with more experience and work in the weight room.
“Dominic loves football and you’d better have a love for the game if you are going to play in the SEC,” Showers said. “He will need to learn to work a little more at the next level because it was so easy for him in high school because of his size.”
Showers said Livingston isn’t a big talker, but he is considerate and kind to those around him. He’s also a horse person.
“Dominic is a very good person,” Showers said. “He loves horses. He rides in his spare time and can tell you anything you want to know about horses. I hope he keeps being the person he’s always been. The world needs more people like Dominic in it. He’s very considerate of everybody and he has a good heart. He hasn’t let the hype get to him.”
You can’t ask for much more than that!